How to replace an engine timing belt on a pinto

Written by nicki callahan
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How to replace an engine timing belt on a pinto
Changing the timing belt on your Pinto is moderately easy if you have the right tools. (Vintage Car Engine image by itsallgood from

The Ford Pinto was introduced in 1971 and while it later came to be known for having major safety issues, at the time this vehicle was a popular and inexpensive mode of transportation. The Pinto came in several body styles, the two-door door coupe, the two-door estate car, and the three-door hatchback.

Changing the timing belt on the Pinto is moderately easy if you have the right tools and will take about an hour to complete.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Socket and open end wrenches
  • Strap wrench (optional)
  • Flashlight

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  1. 1

    Set the engine to "Top Dead Center" (TDC) by rotating the crankshaft pulley until the timing marker lines up with the "zero" mark on the pulley.

  2. 2

    Remove the distributor cap and be sure the rotor is pointed at the number one spark plug wire tower. If it isn't, rotate the crankshaft using a wrench, one additional turn. This should aim the rotor correctly and align the crankshaft and camshaft marks.

  3. 3

    Loosen the alternator adjustment bolts and the adjustment bolts for any other belt-driven accessories. Remove the belts from the front of the engine.

  4. 4

    Remove the fan and pulley and then remove the housing that covers the timing belt.

  5. 5

    Loosen the adjustment and pivot bolts for the tensioner wheel. Pry the tensioner away from the pulley and re-tighten the adjustment bolt to hold it away from the belt.

  6. 6

    Remove the crankshaft pulley by loosening the large nut in its centre. A strap wrench is helpful during this step to keep the engine from turning. Remove the belt guide in back of the crankshaft pulley.

  7. 7

    Remove the timing belt.

  1. 1

    Start with the crankshaft pulley and work counterclockwise, threading the belt first over the auxiliary shaft pulley, then over the camshaft pulley. Make sure it is centred on the sprockets.

  2. 2

    Release the tensioner and re-tighten it the adjustment bolt with the tensioner wheel against the belt from the spring tension.

  3. 3

    Replace the crankshaft pulley, and turn the engine over twice by hand. Make sure the crankshaft and camshaft marks still line up. If they don't, start again. If they do, re-tighten the tensioner adjustment bolt to 14 to 21ft-lbs. and the pivot bolt to 28 to 40ft-lbs.

  4. 4

    Replace the belt cover, fan and pulley and alternator and accessory belts and set tension.

  5. 5

    Start the engine and check the ignition timing.

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